Glowing-Up the Home

Solar Power

Glowing-Up the Home

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How solar power can help you cut down on energy costs

Solar power has been around for a long time. In recent years, the prevalence and popularity of at-home solar generation systems have led to some serious breakthroughs and improvements in the technology. Nevertheless, Canada remains one of the least solar-powered countries in the world, with less than 1% of our power produced by solar (in comparison to over 3% in the United States.

Many, of course, point to our reduced levels of sun and solar energy intake as a big reason for the reduced popularity of solar power. Indeed, parts of Canada – particularly those farther North – receive reduced quantities of solar irradiance, and thus, may not see much advantage in at-home solar power generation.

Canada remains one of the least solar-powered countries in the world, with less than 1% of our power produced by solar (in comparison to over 3% in the United States).

But for cities like Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and their surrounding suburbs, solar power generation is absolutely viable. Don’t believe us? Consider that solar power accounts for nearly 5% of all electricity production share in the United Kingdom (compared to other energy sources), which is greater than in the most sun-baked parts of the United States. And the United Kingdom is hardly more awash in natural sunlight and solar irradiance than major Canadian cities are.

Solar energy is a truly renewable energy source, and is ultimately free once you pay the initial capital costs. So how do you go about installing solar panels at home? Firstly, it’s important to note that there are a handful of important steps that must be taken in advance of installation, to ensure smooth and effective transition. The typical installation of solar panels for at-home generation involves roughly 16 panels, for 7 kilowatts worth of electricity. In the province of British Columbia, a typical at-home solar power generation system provides roughly 7,700 kWh (kilowatt hours) of energy per year. For reference, the typical medium-sized family home in BC averages around 10,000 kWh of annual electricity usage, so solar won’t fulfill all of your needs.

Luckily, solar systems are hooked up to grids, and feed alternating current energy to the local grid. This means that, at the times of the year in which your solar power generation isn’t sufficient, you will have backup via the conventional power grid. The process of ‘gridding’ your solar generation system is complicated, and will require professional consultation and installation. Lightspark can help you find the right contractors and solar power professionals to move forward with your project, at an affordable cost.

Speaking of affordable cost, the push for greater solar power uptake in Canada has led to solar power being included in the Greener Homes Grant initiative. That means that new solar panel installations are eligible for up to $5,000 in grants for first-time installations, with interest-free loans of up to $40,000 available for new installations. With prices on installation dropping, grant programs, and the cost of conventional power seemingly rising across Canada, the payback period for a solar investment continues to lessen. BC Hydro currently estimates it will take solar power users roughly 17 years to achieve payback for an at-home installation – and that number continues to shrink. 

But it is undeniable that solar power is on the upswing. As the graph below shows, the last 15 years have seen an enormous increase in solar power usage – particularly in developing countries. The comparatively inexpensive and ubiquitous availability of solar power, coupled with increasing awareness of the environmental harms of coal and gasoline power, have seen a marked rise in uptake, and that is predicted to only continue to rise – with studies predicting that it will become the cheapest and most widespread energy source in most parts of the world by 2030.

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